Los Angeles's COVID-19 Sick Leave Ordinance

Alerts / April 8, 2020

Los Angeles has enacted a COVID-19 Sick Leave Ordinance, requiring that employers provide employees with sick leave for COVID-19-related reasons. Here’s a summary of the ordinance and its requirements; the text of the ordinance can be accessed here.

Q: What employers does this apply to?

A: The ordinance applies to employers that either (1) have 500 or more employees within the city of Los Angeles or (2) have 2,000 or more employees within the United States.

Q: What employees are eligible?

A: To be eligible, an employee must have been employed with the same employer from Feb. 3, 2020, through Mar. 4, 2020.

Q: In what circumstances must the supplemental sick leave be provided?

A: An employer must provide supplemental sick leave upon the oral or written request of the employee for one of the four following circumstances:

  1. The employee takes time off due to COVID-19 infection or because a public health official or healthcare provider requires or recommends the employee isolate or self-quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  2. The employee takes time off work because the employee is at least 65 years old or has a health condition such as heart disease, asthma, lung disease, diabetes, kidney disease or a weakened immune system.
  3. The employee takes time off work because the employee needs to care for a family member who is not sick but for whom public health officials or healthcare providers have required or recommended isolation or self-quarantine.
  4. The employee takes time off work because the employee needs to provide care for a family member whose senior care provider or whose school or child care provider caring for a child under the age of 18 temporarily ceases operations in response to a public health or other public official’s recommendation. The provision is applicable only to an employee who is unable to secure a reasonable alternative caregiver.

An employer may not require a doctor’s note or other documentation.

How much supplemental sick leave must be provided?

The amount differs for full-time and part-time employees:

  1. If an employee works at least 40 hours per week or is classified as a full-time employee, the employee should receive 80 hours of supplemental sick leave.
  2. If an employee works less than 40 hours per week and is not classified as a full-time employee, the employee should receive an amount of supplemental sick leave no greater than the employee’s average two-week pay over the period of Feb. 3, 2020, through March 4, 2020.

The ordinance caps the amount of supplemental sick leave that must be paid to $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate.

Q: What if employees are already entitled to paid leave?

A: This supplemental sick leave must be provided in addition to any paid leave already provided. If, however, an employee has already been provided paid leave that was not deducted from the employee’s previously accrued paid leave, that amount of leave provided can be deducted from an employer’s obligations under this ordinance. In other words, if an employer has already provided an employee paid leave for the four COVID-19 reasons set out in the ordinance, that amount can be deducted from the employee’s previously accrued leave or from the employee’s entitled leave under this ordinance, but not both.

Q: Are there any exemptions?

A: Yes. An employer is exempted from providing leave under this ordinance in the following situations:

  1. The business was closed or not operating for a period of 14 or more days due to a city official’s emergency order because of the COVID-19 pandemic or provided at least 14 days of leave.
  2. The employer already provides 160 hours of paid leave annually.
  3. Businesses that started or moved into Los Angeles after the period September 4, 2019, through March 4, 2020.
  4. An employer of an employee that provides global parcel delivery services.
  5. An employer that employs emergency and health services personnel.
  6. Government employers.
Q: What if employees are subject to a CBA?

A: A CBA can exempt employers from providing this supplemental leave, but the CBA must be amended to expressly reference this ordinance.

Q: When does the ordinance expire?

A: The order will remain in effect until two calendar weeks after the expiration of the COVID-19 local emergency period.

Q: What happens if an employer doesn’t comply?

A: If an employee is denied supplemental sick leave, the ordinance allows an employee to sue the employer and, if successful, receive (1) reinstatement of position if the employee was retaliated against for requesting leave; (2) back pay and supplemental sick pay that was withheld; and (3) attorneys’ fees.

Authorship Credit: Joseph Persoff, Shareef Farag and Monique Matar

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